Great Salt Lake-effect precipitation: observed frequency, characteristics, and associated environmental factors

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Publication Type pre-print
School or College College of Mines & Earth Sciences
Department Meteorology
Creator Steenburgh, William James
Other Author Alcott, Trevor I.; Laird, Neil F.
Title Great Salt Lake-effect precipitation: observed frequency, characteristics, and associated environmental factors
Date 2012-01-01
Description This climatology examines the environmental factors controlling the frequency, occurrence, and morphology of Great Salt Lake-effect (GSLE) precipitation events using cool season (16 September-15 May) Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) imagery, radiosonde soundings, and MesoWest surface observations from 1997/98 to 2009/10. During this period, the frequency of GSLE events features considerable interannual variability that is more strongly correlated to large-scale circulation changes than lake-area variations. Events are most frequent in fall and spring, with a minimum in January when the climatological lake surface temperature is lowest. Although forecasters commonly use a 168C lake-700-hPa temperature difference (DT) as a threshold for GSLE occurrence, GSLE was found to occur in winter when DT was only 12.48C. Conversely, GSLE is associated with much higher values of DT in the fall and spring. Therefore, a seasonally varying threshold based on a quadratic fit to the monthly minimum DT values during GSLE events is more appropriate than a single threshold value.Aprobabilistic forecast method based on the difference between DT and this seasonally varying threshold, 850-700-hPa relative humidity, and 700-hPa wind direction offers substantial improvement over existing methods, although forecast skill is diminished by temperature and moisture errors in operational models. An important consideration for forecasting because of their higher precipitation rates, banded features-with a horizontal aspect ratio of 6:1 or greater-dominate only 20% of the time that GSLE is occurring, while widespread, nonbanded precipitation is much more common. Banded periods are associated with stronger low-level winds and a larger lake-land temperature difference.
Type Text
Publisher American Meteorological Society
Volume 27
Issue 4
First Page 954
Last Page 971
Language eng
Bibliographic Citation Alcott, T. I., Steenburgh, W. J., & Laird, N. F. (2012). Great Salt Lake-effect precipitation: observed frequency, characteristics, and associated environmental factors. Weather and Forecasting, 27(4), 954-71.
Rights Management (c)American Meteorological Society. Included with permission. Reprinted from Alcott, T. I., Steenburgh, W. J., & Laird, N. F. (2012). Great Salt Lake-effect precipitation: observed frequency, characteristics, and associated environmental factors. Weather and Forecasting, 27(4), 954-71. DOI: 10.1175/WAF-D-12-00016.1 ; http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/WAF-D-12-00016.1
Format Medium application/pdf
Format Extent 5,018,466 bytes
Identifier uspace,18101
Permissions Reference URL https://collections.lib.utah.edu/details?id=1248431
ARK ark:/87278/s6nw032h
Setname ir_uspace
Date Created 2013-02-25
Date Modified 2017-05-05
ID 708323
Reference URL https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6nw032h
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